The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
Patients Seeing Long Wait Times At Local Emergency Rooms
Many patients say they are seeing long waiting times on visits to the emergency room.
Some patients report stories like waiting for six hours with a minor heart attack and being on a list with fifteen people in front of them as they wait with a broken arm.
Medical officials say it’s for a number of reasons. Mainly, a lack of resources while resurgent viruses are putting great pressure on hospitals.
“In the hospitals, we are having a problem with nursing availability and general staff resources. We are having some bed shortages and some problems with being able to put people in the hospital.” said Dr. Charlotte Ransom of PeaceHealth RiverBend Hospital.
Earlier in November, there were over 3000 positive RSV tests across Oregon. The virus primarily targets younger patients such as infants and toddlers. Doctors say older residents should take note of respiratory viruses as well. Several hospitals are also experiencing staff shortages which contribute to the agonizing wait times many patients have had to deal with.
In spite of all the challenges, emergency departments have been trying their best and say they are prioritizing more serious conditions at this time. meaning if you need to visit, get ready to sit tight for the time being.
Free Thanksgiving Meals In Lane County
Although the Whiteaker Holiday Dinner is not happening this year, a coalition of groups have decided to do their own.
Alluvium, a spiritual center, in partnership with The Way Home and Reality Kitchen, will provide warm meals for members of the unhoused community on Thanksgiving Day. All three organizations share a common history and a goal to house or provide food for unhoused or at-risk Eugene residents.
“It was inspired by the absence of the Whiteaker Dinner,” said Will Paradis, an Alluvium community member. “We really felt it’s a very important aspect of this community and people depend on it and we wanted to keep it going when we found out it wasn’t going to happen in the way that it has for many years.”
Volunteers are more than welcome to lend a helping hand. Meals will start going around at 1:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Alluvium is located at 810 west Third Avenue in Eugene. Organizers are planning to serve more than 125 meals alongside grilled foods, sandwiches, and snacks.
Alluvium, 810 W. 3rd Ave.
Alluvium is working with The Way Home of Eugene and Reality Kitchen to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for the unhoused. They will be serving 125 meals that will consist of turkey and additional assorted sides. They will start serving at 1:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving at Alluvium.
Veneta – Fern Ridge Service Center, 25035 West Broadway
A free dine-in meal will be provided on Wednesday between noon and 1:30 p.m. The event is open to all.
Junction City — Moose Lodge #2238, 427 Front St.
The lodge will be hosting a free hot Thanksgiving dinner for community members. It will be open on Thanksgiving from noon to 5 p.m. and the event is open to anyone. Call 541-998-1164 for information.
Florence – Elks Lodge #1858, 1686 12th St.
The Kiwanis Club of Florence will be distributing 750 free to-go meals at the Elks Lodge on Thanksgiving. They will start serving at 11:30 a.m. and will stop serving when the 750 meals have been distributed. No more than four to-go meals per vehicle unless all recipients are present.
Looking for a hot and nutritious meal? You can sit down at any one of the meal sites in Lane County and get just this. You may visit meal sites as often as you need to, and identification is not required.
Lane County meal sites*
The Dining Room
270 W 8th Ave
Passing out to-go meals
St. Vincent de Paul Service Station
450 B Hwy 99 N
(18+ only); limited number of guests in the building, outdoor respite space available
Ebbert Memorial Methodist Church
532 C St, Springfield
Passing out to-go meals
Sunday Breakfast at Washington-Jefferson Park, 9:15-9:45AM
Sunday Dinner at Washington-Jefferson Park, 5:00-5:30PM
Hearth & Table
Free meals for local college students once a week Thursdays, 6:30PM-7:15PM.
Central Lutheran Church, 1857 Potter Street.
The entrance to use is the one in the back, off the parking lot. The meals are packaged for reheating, plant-based, and recipes are provided, so students can develop their cooking skills on their own by practicing the recipes.
UPDATE: Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash in NW Eugene
On November 22, 2022 just prior to 5:45am, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a head-on traffic crash on Prairie Rd. near Maxwell Rd. in Eugene. Medics responded and determined that the driver of one of the involved vehicles, 23-year old Eddie Lloyd Jenks of Fall Creek, had died.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the1999 Pontiac Sunfire driven by Jenks had been traveling southbound on Prairie Rd. when it failed to negotiate a curve. The Sunfire crossed into the oncoming northbound lane where it struck a 2010 Ford F150 pickup driven by 58-year old Harvey James Arnold of Eugene.
Evidence at the scene indicated that Jenks was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.
FOOD For Lane County Turkey Trot
Event is a canned food drive for FOOD For Lane County and St. Vincent de Paul. Bring food to the event on race day or to FFLC 9am to 4pm Monday through Wednesday next week.
FFLC is closed Thursday and Friday in observance of Thanksgiving.
MORE INFO and to REGISTER: https://secure.getmeregistered.com/get_information.php…
UPDATE: Springfield Police Investigating Shooting That Left One Person Dead
Springfield police are investigating a shooting early Tuesday morning that left one person dead and another injured.
According to Springfield Police Department, officers responded to a reported shooting at Bobbi’s VIP Room at 1195 Main St. at 2:37 a.m. on November 22. Police said that on arrival, they found one man had been shot and was laying in the parking lot, and learned that another man had been shot but was already taken to a nearby hospital. Police said medics from Eugene Springfield Fire shortly arrived to provide aid to the victim in the parking lot, but the victim had already passed away. Police say the other person who was shot is in stable condition.
SPD said their initial investigation has led them to believe a dispute occurred at the club which led to the shooting incident in the parking lot. SPD said detectives are still on the scene investigating the incident. Springfield police said the names of those involved are being withheld pending further investigation, and has promised an update at a future point in time.
The owner of the club took to FaceBook and posted in part, “We would like to send our condolences to everyone involved and we are hoping the police are able to get to the bottom of this senseless act of violence.”
Detectives are still working on the investigation and anyone with any information is asked to call the Springfield Police Department. (541) 726-3714
The First Christian Church in Eugene is partnering with Lane County Health and Human Services and CAHOOTS to help with the newly-announced Operation Winter Survival Stockpile, an effort to have plenty of warm winter clothing and supplies through donations that will help people experiencing homelessness.
Lane County and CAHOOTS coordinated an event for the drive last Friday – community members can still drop off items at the church between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays.
Some of the items they need include things like tents, blankets, sleeping bags, hand warmers, and anything else that can be used to keep someone warm as well as other survival supplies. Lane County officials say the supplies would be distributed to homeless outreach providers like CAHOOTS that have direct contact with individuals in need.
Some items that Operation Winter Survival Stockpile’s looking for are:
- Tents – preferably 2 person
- Blankets – preferably wool
- Rain ponchos
- Sleeping Bags
- Hand Warmers
- Socks – preferably wool
- Gift Cards
- Laundry Cards
- Thermal Underwear
- Flashlights/ Batteries
- Beanies/Warm Hats
- Other survival supplies
Items can continued to be dropped off on weekdays between the hours if 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at First Christian Church, at 1166 Oak Street in Eugene.
For more information on Operation Winter Survival Stockpile contact Maria Cortex at Maria.Cortez@lanecountyor.gov
For those who don’t wish to donate in-person, or are just looking for ideas on what to donate, the church has set up an Amazon wish list for Operation Winter Stockpile.
Oregon Nurses Association Pushes For Stricter Hospital Staffing Laws
The Oregon Nurses Association is pushing for minimum standards that establish how many nurses hospitals need to operate and meet patients’ needs effectively.
The union, which represents 15,000 nurses, recently released details of legislation it plans to pursue in the 2023 Oregon legislative session. Oregon already has a law that requires hospitals and nurses to develop staffing plans to best meet the needs of patients.
But the union says the existing law needs a stronger enforcement mechanism and steep fines to hold hospitals accountable when they try to skirt staffing requirements. Staffing standards ultimately are about patients, including their level of medical attention and other care they get, such as prompt meals and help to the restroom.
The push for better hospital staffing comes after a two-year pandemic burned out many nurses who endured in understaffed hospitals where the quality of care deteriorated.
“We live with the terrible consequences of unsafe staffing levels every single day,” Tamie Cline, a registered nurse and president of the Oregon Nurses Association’s board of directors, said in a press conference. “We are forced to pick up extra shifts and work longer hours without rest or meal breaks. Managers assign us unmanageable and unsafe numbers of patients. We leave work feeling exhausted, physically and emotionally, because we are just not able to deliver the quality of care that our patients, and our communities, deserve.”
Hospitals have faced nursing shortages for more than two years that have affected patient care, nurses have told the Capital Chronicle. Sometimes the consequences have been dire, with patients dying because of a lack of staff, Patrick Allen, Oregon Health Authority director, told a legislative committee in September.
The trade group that represents hospitals, the Oregon Association of Hospital and Health Systems, has said more needs to be done. But it opposes the proposal and warned it threatens access to patient care and is punitive for struggling hospitals.
“Rather than preserving access to quality health care for Oregon patients, the union’s proposal focuses on new ways to punish community hospitals based on questionable standards, while increasing costs,” Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said in a statement. “Under the union’s proposal, community hospitals will have no choice but to reduce access to services if they are unable to hire enough staff, which is very likely given the severe staffing shortage.”
Proposal details — The proposal, backed by Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland and chair of the Interim House Health Care Committee and a former nurses association lobbyist, would set minimum figures for how many nurses should be on different types of hospital units.
From there, nurses and hospital management would set staffing standards based on factors unique to each hospital, such as the acuity of patients and experience of nurses on staff.
The proposal includes:
• The Oregon Health Authority would be required to enforce staffing plans and could levy fines of up to $10,000 a day. The authority didn’t respond to a request for comment.
• Unions and individual employees could sue hospitals in court for violations.
• Staffing plans would require nurses to have adequate meal and rest breaks.
• Minimum staffing standards in the law would set a floor for hospitals. But hospitals and staff would still be expected to collaborate on a plan that looks beyond the minimum standards. For example, an intensive care unit would have at least one nurse for one or two patients, depending on the patient’s conditions.
Allison Seymour, a registered nurse in Salem and secretary of the Oregon Nurses Association, said the improvements would encourage people to return to nursing who, like her, suffered when workloads were unsustainable.
“I carried the guilt of delays in care and missed care,” Seymour said. “I would go home wondering if my patients were going to survive the night. Unsafe workloads made me feel my license was in jeopardy. I developed overwhelming anxiety trying to juggle an unsafe workload, trying to care for everyone at once with the care they deserve.”
Workforce crisis – The nurses union said the shortage of nurses is about retention amid poor working conditions — not the actual number of licensed nurses in Oregon.
The number of licensed registered nurses in Oregon increased from nearly 63,000 in January 2019 to 80,000 in September, an increase of more than 17,000, according to the Oregon Board of Nursing licensing data.
Those figures only reflect licensed nurses in all situations, not all those employed. Licensing figures also reflect other factors, such as nurses who keep their license and move to another state or retire and only work part time.
Still, the rise demonstrates that turnover is at the root of the problem, union officials said.
“Everyone must remember that hospitals are the authors of this crisis due to turnover; we know nurses are leaving the bedside at record rates because they are unwilling to work in unsafe and unsupportive environments,” said Matt Calzia, director of nursing practice and professional development for the Oregon Nurses Association. “Fix the working environment, and you fix turnover.”
Calzia noted that the level of increase is equal to the union’s 15,000-worker membership.
The nurses union said an increase in staffing will improve patient outcomes, help them avoid life-threatening complications and reduce expensive turnover for hospitals.
Hultberg, with the hospitals association, said the group will propose other solutions to address the workforce needs and benefit patients.
In September, the Legislature’s Emergency Board approved a $40 million request from the health authority and the state Department of Human Services for hospitals that coordinate care in Oregon’s six hospital regions, clinical staff to coordinate patient transfers and money to hire 50 more contract nurses. That money is only a temporary fix and state officials say a permanent solution is necessary so hospitals have adequate staffing and the capacity to treat patients at all levels of care.
Kroger Owned Fred Meyer Facing Class Action Lawsuit For Allegedly Not Paying Employees
Fred Meyer is facing a class action lawsuit over wages as two employees are seeking at least $5 million on behalf of employees who aren’t getting paid.
Fred Meyer stores activated a new payroll system in September that created widespread errors, causing people to miss multiple weeks of pay, according to the lawsuit.
“We have experienced a technical error in paycheck distribution. Although a small percentage of our associates have been affected, we understand the impact. We are working quickly on resolving known,” said a Fred Meyer spokesperson in a statement.
The lawsuit claims the company violates Oregon wage laws.
One employee in Vancouver, Washington who was not listed in the lawsuit, told KOIN 6 that since the launch of the new payroll system, she and a bunch of people are not receiving full paychecks or not receiving paychecks at all.
“I just feel so bad for all these other employees that are not being paid at all for weeks on end because they’re being forced into a financial hole that’s going to take them months to get out of,” said Emerson Ferguson, a Fred Meyer employee who says she hasn’t been paid in a month.
According to the lawsuit, one of the plaintiffs listed previously worked at a Fred Meyer in Portland, and the other works in Medford.
DFR advises residents to be informed and cautious when investing in crypto platforms
SALEM – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) reminds Oregon investors to diversify investments and be informed of the risks in investing in largely unregulated products such as cryptocurrency.
Some of these financial product offerings are registered and licensed with DFR as money transmitters or securities offerings. The division has investigated several cryptocurrency companies and continues to monitor the market.
“It is important to know the risks involved with cryptocurrency or any investment opportunities,” said TK Keen, administrator for DFR. “No investment opportunities are risk free, and you should always do your homework on where you are sending your money. This is especially true when cryptocurrency is involved.”
The recent news of the bankruptcy of FTX, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, which left approximately 1 million customers and investors facing total losses in the billions, should serve as a warning to anyone investing in cryptocurrency.
“Investing in cryptocurrency is extremely risky given what’s going on right now,” Keen said. “It’s important to not invest more than you can afford to lose or put all of your assets in one bucket.”
Cryptocurrency accounts are not generally insured by the FDIC, which recently issued a fact sheet clarifying when an account is considered insured.
DFR encourages Oregonians to follow these tips when it comes to digital currency and nonfungible tokens (NFTs), which are often linked to digital works of art, photos, or videos:
- Carefully research these types of investments. Many of these “investment opportunities” are speculative in nature. Before engaging in a transaction, make sure that you understand what you are purchasing, the value of the item purchased, the reason for the valuation, and how easy it is to sell the investment if you want to get out your money.
- Use a digital currency exchange that is licensed with the state to transmit cryptocurrency to someone else. Oregon law requires companies that transfer digital currency from one person to another to be licensed as money transmitters. Digital currency exchange companies that purchase or sell cryptocurrency from their own inventories are not required to be licensed.
- Do not spend money you need. The volatility of the digital currency and NFT markets means that you should not purchase cryptocurrency with money that is needed for essential purposes such as food, housing, and gas.
The division originally put out a press release on Jan. 20 warning of the risks of these types of investments.
Anyone who has questions about these platforms or believes they may have been defrauded, should contact the division’s advocates at 866-814-9710 (toll-free).
About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and www.dcbs.oregon.gov.
Triple Your Impact: Pacific Power Will Match Your Contribution to Oregon Energy Fund 2-for-1
Helping your neighbors and their families stay warm just got easier. Pacific Power will match every dollar you donate to the Oregon Energy Fund with $2 more.
Pacific Power customers who receive their bills by mail will find it includes an Oregon Energy Fund contribution envelope in November. Customers who pay their bills electronically can send a check or enroll in the fixed donation program.
This program allows customers to donate any dollar amount, starting at $1 per month, which is then incorporated into their monthly bill. Fixed donations will also be matched 2-for-1 by Pacific Power. To enroll in the fixed donation program call Pacific Power toll-free at 1-888-221-7070.
Donations may be tax-deductible and are forwarded directly to the Oregon Energy Fund, which verifies eligibility and allocates funds to those in need. All funds donated are used to assist families in need from the same county in which the donor resides.
“Pacific Power’s commitment to our mission of supporting household stability is bolstered by compassion, collaboration, and innovation,” said Brian Allbritton, executive director of the Oregon Energy Fund. “Studies have shown that more than a quarter of Oregonians struggle to pay their bills each year. Pacific Power’s partnership helps ensure that our neighbors don’t have to sacrifice food, rent, medicine, or childcare to keep the lights on.”
Last year, donations from Pacific Power’s customers, employees, and the company helped 721 households in need throughout Oregon. These households included 672 children, 253 seniors, and 221 people with disabilities. This year, Pacific Power will match up to $144,000 in donations.
Customers who need bill assistance themselves can talk with Pacific Power representatives who can help with payment plans that work for their individual needs and direct them to agencies that may be able to help. Pacific Power’s customer service number is 1-888-221-7070.
About Pacific Power — Pacific Power provides safe and reliable electric service to more than 764,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. The company supplies customers with electricity from a diverse portfolio of generating plants including hydroelectric, thermal, wind, geothermal and solar resources. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with 2 million customers in six western states. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.
Oregon Lottery Earns Big Returns for State in 2022
The Oregon Lottery announced a return of nearly $909 million dollars to the state for the 2022 fiscal year – a return to pre-pandemic levels and 81% year over year growth. The funding directly benefits state parks and natural habitats, public schools, veteran services, outdoor school, and economic development.
Oregon Lottery is self-funded through the sale of games, not tax dollars, and voters and the Legislature designate where the money goes.
“Lottery funds are dedicated to support some of Oregonians’ most treasured programs,” said Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack. “The sales rebound this year shows our players continue to find relevancy in our games and value the reliable revenue they provide to help make our state a great place to live.”
Lottery players also won big, with payouts totaling nearing $16 billion for the year. Five players in Oregon won prizes over $250,000 and five won prizes $1 million or over. Prizes big and small account for 91% of the Lottery dollars played.
Sales commissions on Lottery games also support retailers, many of whom are small business owners. The 3,800 Lottery retailers across Oregon collectively earned more than $313 million this year.
Demonstrating a commitment to responsible play, the World Lottery Association recognized the Oregon Lottery in 2022 with the highest certification level for its Responsible Gaming programs. The Oregon Lottery was one of only eight lotteries in the United States to reach this level.
The Lottery’s financial year runs from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. A final audited report will be posted to the Oregon Lottery’s website.
Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org.
King Tides Along the Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is expecting a series of King Tides this week. That’s a non-scientific term for the highest high tides of the year, when the moon, sun and Earth align at their closest points and the gravitational pull on the Earth is the greatest.
Meg Reed is with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. The group runs Oregon’s arm of the international King Tides Project, which documents the impacts over time of high-tide events. Reed encourages people to help, as long as they are above and away from the water.
She told KLCC, “If you do have a safe place to look at them, take a photograph showing the extent of high water. And really against a recognizable landmark is really helpful, so something like a sign, or a dock, or something where you can kind of tell how high the water level is.”
Reed said this is the 13th year of the Oregon King Tides Project. The dataset they’ve collected has helped them develop a planning guide, which provides potential adaptation strategies for predicted sea level rise.
This week’s King Tides are Thursday through Saturday. Reed advises to check tide tables at your location for exact times.
Bend Top Thanksgiving Destination in the State
With 777,000 Oregonians expected to travel this week for Thanksgiving roads in the High Desert will get very crowded, starting today. Bend is a top regional destination for the Thanksgiving weekend, according to Oregon
Spokesperson Marie Dobbs says that the days before Thanksgiving, are the busiest travel days. So, if you can avoid traveling in the afternoon and early evening on Tuesday and Wednesday that will be an advantage.
Same thing when you’re coming home on Sunday; 4-8 p.m., that’s the busiest time to travel” says Dodds who advises trying to avoid peak commuting times, adding that you don’t intermingle with folks who are trying to get home from work while you’re trying to leave on your Thanksgiving trip.
89% of holiday travelers are estimated to be driving, which will make for a very busy weekend for our roads.
Free parking at Oregon State Parks the day after Thanksgiving – Free Fishing Days after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25-26
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites Oregonians to head outside the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25.
Popularly known as “Green Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving has become a tradition in recent years. Oregon state parks will once again waive day-use parking fees in the 24 parks that are open and charge for parking on that day.
“We’re proud to promote this tradition and offer Oregonians an alternative to the busiest shopping day of the year,” said Lisa Sumption, director of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
Parking is free year-round at almost all state parks; the waiver applies to the parks that charge $5 daily for parking. Fee parks include popular destinations such as Fort Stevens, Cape Lookout, Silver Falls, Champoeg, L.L. Stub Stewart, Smith Rock and Milo McIver. A complete list of parks that require day-use parking permits is available online at stateparks.oregon.gov (Fall Creek is listed, but closed for the season).
The fee waiver applies from open to close on Nov. 25, except at Shore Acres State Park, where it expires at 4 p.m. for the Holiday Lights event that runs Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
Use #OptOutside and #OregonStateParks on social media to share your adventures. Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.
Free Fishing Days after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25-26
#OptOutside the two days after Thanksgiving and make fishing part of your plans with friends and family. Everyone can fish, clam and crab for free in Oregon on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25 and 26, 2022.
No fishing/shellfish licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required those two days. Both Oregon residents and nonresidents can fish for free.
All other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for rules and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at the Recreation Report especially for salmon and steelhead fishing. Click on the zone where you want to fish and then click the “Regulation Updates” tab to see the in-season changes.
The Recreation Report is updated weekly and features the best bests for fishing for the upcoming week. Depending on water levels and conditions, fishing could be good for Chinook or coho salmon.
For beginners, Easy Angling Oregon is a great guide to getting started fishing in Oregon, https://myodfw.com/EAO And if you live near Portland , Bend , Medford , Roseburg or in Lane County , there are lots of nearby options.
Prefer to crab or clam instead? MyODFW has all the information you need to get started clamming or crabbing . Remember to check ocean conditions and take safety precautions: always clam with a friend and never turn your back on the ocean.
Currently, crabbing is open in bays, beaches, estuaries, tide pools, piers and jetties along the entire Oregon coast. Crabbing is closed in the ocean due to the annual closure from Oct. 16-Nov. 30 each year.
Remember to call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 or check their Shellfish page before you go clamming or crabbing. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat. Currently, razor clamming is closed along the entire coast but this closure may change by Thanksgiving weekend.